This meatballs and rice recipe transforms frozen meatballs and veggie rice into an ultra savory dish that’s packed with filling protein and fiber. You can make it in your Instant Pot or any pressure cooker with a sauté function, and it takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
I’ll walk you through the recipe and go over ingredient substitutions and Instant Pot cooking tips along the way. If you’re ready to get straight to business, hit the jump to recipe button above.
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Ingredients for Instant Pot Meatballs and Rice
While these meatballs and rice primarily call for Trader Joe’s ingredients, there are plenty of substitutions you can make in case you don’t have access to a TJ’s. Here are the TJ’s ingredients you’ll need with a note on other options:
- frozen turkey meatballs – or another frozen, fully cooked meatball option (other options include my Italian chicken meatballs and Italian ground turkey meatballs)
- roasted garlic marinara – or your choice of marinara
- Italian Bomba sauce – or pickled roasted peppers or a hot chili oil mixed with tomato paste
- Risoni – other veggie rice products like Right Rice or Banza’s chickpea rice
- Quattro Formaggi – or any shredded Italian cheese blend
The remaining ingredients are basics like olive oil, onion, garlic, and chicken broth. And I’ll also plug our Trader Joe’s recipe guide for its shopping list. If you’re looking for everything we keep on hand from TJ’s, check that post out!
Instant Pot Meatballs and Rice Recipe Walkthrough
A pro tip for using your Instant Pot for sautéing is to turn it on first thing while you prep all your ingredients. It usually takes around 5 minutes for the pot to fully heat up. You don’t want to be fully prepped only to wait around on the pot to heat up.
Step 1: Sauté diced onion for 5 minutes before adding minced garlic and Italian Bomba pepper sauce.
You want to soften the onion without adding a ton of color so keep it moving around while it cooks. And don’t stand over the pot once you had the chili sauce unless you need to clear your sinuses!
Step 2: Turn off the Instant Pot and add marinara, chicken broth, rice, and frozen meatballs.
Be sure to get any crispy bits off the bottom of the pot before adding all the broth and marinara. I’ve found if you’re not careful to remove all the fond from the pot, you can get the occasional burn error on the Instant Pot during pressure cooking.
Step 3: Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Vent immediately and stir.
Once you vent your Instant Pot, use a wooden spoon to stir the meatballs and rice. You may have some rice stick to the bottom of the pot, so be sure to scrape the bottom when stirring everything together.
What if I get a burn message on my Instant Pot?
If you see the dreaded burn notice when cooking your meatballs and rice, simply add a bit more broth and reseal to pressure cook for a few more minutes. Since the meatballs are fully cooked, you’re really just looking for them to be heated through and the rice to absorb most of the liquid.
Step 4: Top with shredded Italian cheese and broil for 3 minutes (Duo Crisp only) or place the lid back on to melt with residual heat.
I use the Instant Pot Duo Crisp for my recipes, which has the air fryer attachment. This tool is great for broiling pressure cooked recipes like shredded chicken or melting top layers of cheese like in my Instant Pot buffalo chicken dip.
If you don’t have the Duo Crisp or air fryer attachment, you can place the lid back on your Instant Pot and let the residual heat melt the cheese. You can also fold the cheese directly in with your meatballs and rice.
Top with fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, and freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy!
Fresh parsley or even some fresh basil cuts through the richness, so I’d highly recommend adding some. Though you might hold off on the red pepper flakes until you’ve tasted the finished dish. The Italian Bomba sauce isn’t all that spicy in a small amount like this recipe calls for, but I’ve been called spice tolerant before.
Serving sizes are a little tricky with a dish like this. I calculated nutrition facts based on the weight of the finished meatballs and rice. The Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs come with 12 meatballs so each of the 6 servings has 2 meatballs and rice that weighs about 1/6th of the total weight, if that makes sense. Needless to say, nutrition information is always an estimate to the best of my ability!
To make the dish a bit more macro friendly, you could reduce the cheese. Admittedly, 2 ounces of cheese should be plenty to cover the top of your meatballs and rice. That would save about 3 grams of fat and 35-40 calories per serving.
Okay, that should cover it. If you have any recipe questions I missed, drop a comment at the bottom of the post. And don’t forget to come back and let me know what you thought about this recipe via a recipe review!
Instant Pot Meatballs and Rice
Frozen turkey meatballs and veggie rice pressure cooked in a roasted garlic and Calabrian chili marinara and topped with a 4-cheese blend.
- 1 Tbsp (16g) Olive Oil
- 1 (250g) Onion, diced
- 5 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp (28g) Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Sauce*
- 1 1/2 C (375g) Trader Joe's Roasted Garlic Marinara
- 2 C Chicken Broth
- 1 C (192g) Trader Joe's Risoni**
- 1 bag Trader Joe's Frozen Turkey Meatballs
- 4 oz Shredded Italian Cheese Blend
- Use a pressure cooker's sauté function to cook the onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes, before adding the garlic and Italian Bomba sauce.
- Cook another 30-60 seconds until fragrant before turning off the sauté function. Add a few tablespoons of broth to deglaze the pot.
- Once deglazed, add the marinara, remaining broth, Risoni, and frozen meatballs. Stir everything together and seal the Instant Pot. Pressure cook with high pressure for 5 minutes and vent immediately.
- Top the finished meatballs and rice with the shredded cheese and use the broil function (Instant Pot Duo Crisp only) for 5 minutes to melt the cheese. If you don't have a broil function, just place the lid back on the pot to melt with residual heat or fold the cheese straight in.
- Top with fresh parsley, parmesan, and red pepper flakes, if desired.
*For ingredient substitution notes, see the post above.
**1 C of Risoni is not the full box.
Each serving has 11 WW SmartPoints (blue).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Servings Serving Size: 2 Meatballs with Rice (about 300g)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 380Total Fat: 16gCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 26g
Saturday 29th of January 2022
Would starting with raw meat for my meat balls alter the recipe/cook time any? If it does, how long should I cook the meet balls if they start out thawed and raw?
- Thank you, Katherine
Monday 31st of January 2022
I would brown the meatballs on all sides using the sauté function before adding the onion and remaining ingredients. The time in the pressure cooker should be the same, just make sure the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165ºF after venting.
Monday 12th of April 2021
Easily one of our new favorites! We used regular rice instead of veggie rice, so upped the pressure cooking to 8 minutes vs 5. It turned out perfect! We also used tomato paste & chili oil instead of the TJ sauce because we didn’t go to TJ. Highly recommend!!!
Thursday 15th of April 2021
@Robin Polk, Did you use the same amount of regular rice (1 cup) as your substitution? Also, I'm using homemade meatballs. Do you think I should add these while the rice cooks or wait until the rice is done and add the cooked meatballs after?